The Top 5 Best (Truly) Free VPNs for Linux in 2022

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Roundup: The Top 5 Best Free VPNs for Linux in 2022

Linux is a security-focused operating system, but to be truly secure online, you’ll need a virtual private network (VPN). Unfortunately, only a few VPNs support Linux, let alone for free. If they do, they’re likely to have ill intentions, such as harvesting your data or infecting you with malware.

With that in mind, we strived to uncover and thoroughly test the best free VPNs for Linux that you can easily set up and start using right away. Below are our results.

ProtonVPN is our overall best free VPN for Linux due to its unlimited data, top-notch security, and GUI. But if you’re interested in premium features and security, our recommendation is NordVPN. Click the link below to install NordVPN on your device and secure your connection.

Read our article below to learn more about the best free VPNs for Linux and find out what limitations you may experience by using free VPNs.

Linux is a top security- and privacy-friendly operating system. Sadly, it still gets the short end of the stick when it comes to VPNs. Linux users often have trouble finding a VPN that’s easy to use, bug-free, and ready to use out of the box.

Sadly, not all VPNs offer their services for Linux. Plus, being used to open-source solutions, Linux users often dread VPN subscriptions. So, in this article, we focus on easy-to-use, free VPNs for Linux that adhere to the security, speed, and privacy standards that Linux users cherish.

Furthermore, we understand that you support free and open-source software. That’s why we narrowed the list down to the best free VPNs for Linux that are based on open-source security protocols. Let’s dig in!


Top 5 Best Free VPN for Linux in 2022

Below, we compiled the top 5 free VPNs for Linux that are safe to use, lightning-fast, and up-to-date on security protocols.

1. ProtonVPN: Unlimited data and a dedicated GUI

Screenshot of ProtonVPN, website homepage

Features at a glance:

  • Unlimited data: Use as much as you like
  • Easy to install: Has a dedicated Linux GUI App
  • Protocols supported: OpenVPN, Wireguard, IKEv2
  • Server locations: USA, Japan, and the Netherlands
  • Distros supported: Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, MX Linux, Kali Linux, Elementary OS, Fedora, Arch Linux / Manjaro

ProtonVPN is a free VPN for Linux that offers unlimited bandwidth. That is, you can stream, play video games, and download torrents for free — for as long as you want — while being secured by some of the greatest security available today.

The unlimited data is free to use for as long as you like, and you will never be required to switch to a premium version. It also provides adequate speeds for streaming and torrenting, though they may decline at peak periods (as premium users have priority).

ProtonVPN routes all connections over the open-source OpenVPN protocol, which uses the rock-solid AES-256 bit encryption. It has a strict no-logs policy (audited and verified) and publishes regular transparency reports. Its headquarters are in Switzerland, which keeps it out of the 5/9/14 Eyes alliance countries, ensuring your privacy. It also features DNS leaks protection and a kill switch to protect your data if your connection is unexpectedly disconnected.

If you prefer a graphical user interface (GUI) over a command line, ProtonVPN is your best bet. It has an elegant look and feel that appeals to most Linux users. More importantly, the GUI eliminates the additional steps of connecting to servers and configuring settings that would be typical with a command line.

For more information on ProtonVPN, check out our full review or visit its website by clicking below.

Visit ProtonVPN

2. WindscribeVPN: VPN that blocks malware, tracking, and ads

Screenshot of Windscribe, website homepage with added logo in the corner

Features at a glance:

  • Browser extension: For ads. and malware blocking
  • Server locations: Servers in 10 countries (US and Canada included)
  • Protocols supported: OpenVPN, Wireguard, and IKEv2
  • Supported distros: Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, Arch Linux, and CentOS

WindscribeVPN offers 10 GB per month if you provide a confirmed email address. Otherwise, you’ll only get 2GB. This also includes access to servers in 10 locations. At no point will you be compelled to upgrade to a premium version if you’re comfortable working with the data limit.

Besides the CLI application, you can add an additional layer of security by installing Windscribe’s browser extension. The extension is jam-packed with features that protect your online anonymity and privacy and provides an overall pleasurable browsing experience. Windscribe’s browser extension includes free Linux browsing utilities such as:

  • Blockers (adblocker, malware blocker, social networks tracking blocker, cookies blocker)
  • Privacy enhancers (auto-deletes cookies, limits WebRTC requests to prevent leaks, randomly rotates your user agent)
  • uBlock Origin intergration

You should note that these features are strictly for the browser and don’t apply otherwise. Windscribe is excellent for peer-to-peer torrent downloads mostly due to its dedicated torrenting servers. Although you’ll be constrained by the 10GB monthly data limit. The VPN website has a detailed Ubuntu install guide with screenshots if you prefer a manual setup.

Visit WindscribeVPN

3. TunnelBear VPN: Fast speeds with numerous servers

Screenshot of TunnelBear, website homepage with added logo in the corner

Features at a glance:

  • Server network: Extensive global network of free servers
  • Bypass censorship: Features geared towards bypassing censorship
  • Linux documentation: Step-by-step installation guide for Ubuntu
  • Distros supported: Ubuntu, Linux Mint, and Fedora
  • Reliable speeds: Fast and consistent speeds

TunnelBear’s free version provides access to its global network of over 49 servers. This is useful for Linux users who want to bypass censorship, get discounts on their favorite shopping sites, and avoid geo-restrictions on streaming services.

TunnelBear’s downside is that it only provides 500 MB per month, which is insufficient for intensive internet use like streaming or downloading large files. However, if you tweet about TunnelBear, you can get an extra 1 GB of data. On the other hand, 500 MB may be sufficient for running command line utilities like apt and mail.

TunnelBear’s DNS leak protection prevents your DNS requests from being revealed to your ISP. It goes even farther by integrating a kill switch called VigilantBear, which terminates your connection when the VPN disconnects to prevent your online actions from being exposed. TunnelBear free includes an obfuscation tool, Ghostbear, designed to circumvent censorship and VPN restrictions. It should be noted, however, that TunnelBear is based in one of the 5 Eyes nations (Canada), which is not ideal for privacy.

The VPN’s website provides detailed instructions for installing it on Linux, specifically Ubuntu-based distributions. You can get TunnelBear working on other distros with a bit of tweaking.

Visit TunnelBear

4. PrivadoVPN: Unblocks streaming sites

Screenshot of PrivadoVPN website homepage

Features at a glance:

  • Access blocked content: Unblocks content on streaming sites such as Netflix
  • Server security: Owns and operates its servers
  • Server locations: Servers in 12 different countries
  • Linux support: Step-by-step instructions to install in a Linux system

PrivadoVPN is an excellent free VPN for Linux because of its fast speeds and ability to unblock streaming sites. It unblocks streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime. Its unblocking capabilities are mostly attributed to the fact that PrivadoVPN owns and operates its own servers.

PrivadoVPN offers a 10 GB monthly data limit and you won’t be required to upgrade to a premium account if the data limit works for you. The free version gives you access to 9 servers in 12 different locations, which is excellent for a free edition. You may unblock a multitude of online services, including streaming, online shopping, and live sports, thanks to the huge network of servers and its unique unblocking capabilities.

Regarding privacy, the VPN is based in Switzerland, meaning it can’t be compelled to hand over your data to authorities. Furthermore, it maintains a strict zero-logs policy and firmly believes in not storing any user data. It offers strong DNS leaks protection and a kill switch to protect your data for when your connection terminates.

Visit PrivadoVPN

5. Hide.me: Lightweight and Powerful

Screenshot of HIDEme VPN website homepage

Features at a glance:

  • Multi-distro support: Supports all Debian-, Ubuntu-, Fedora- based distros
  • Diverse protocols: OpenVPN, IPsec (IKEv1 and IKEv2), SoftEther, SSTP, PPTP, L2TP/IPsec
  • Lightweight: Easy to install, flexible, and powerful
  • Linux support: Step-by-step instructions on how to install on Linux

Hide.me supports a wide range of Linux distros due to the CLI app being written in Golang (a cross-platform programming language). Hide.me can thus be installed in any Debian-, Ubuntu-, or Fedora-based distribution. The VPN provides 24/7 customer care for its free users, and they are quite responsive, so don’t hesitate to contact them if you have any issues.

The Hide.me CLI Linux app is open-source and accessible on GitHub, where users can scrutinize it and contribute to its development. It provides a monthly data limit of 10 GB and access to five server locations (Canada, Germany, Netherlands, US East, and US West). Note that you’ll need an email to register for an account.

The VPN is both lightweight and powerful, with adequate download and streaming rates. Its servers support torrent downloads and provide an array of modern security protocols to choose from.

It boasts cutting-edge AES-256 encryption to safeguard your data while online. It also has a kill switch to prevent any data exposure when your connection terminates. Unfortunately, Hide.me’s free edition does not have Wireguard, which improves performance and security.

Hide.me focuses on satisfying users instead of shareholders because it’s autonomous and not owned by any large corporation. The VPN does not store any user data mainly because it’s based in Malaysia, which is a pro-privacy country. This has enabled the VPN to design its systems with a strict no-logs policy. Hide.me is further appealing because it is a member of the VPN Trust Initiative (VTI) and has been independently inspected to guarantee its zero-logs policy.

Visit Hide.me

Free VPNs Linux Users Should Avoid

Free VPNs to avoid icon

In the list above, we took the time to thoroughly test the best free Linux VPNs that are safe and have your best interests at heart. However, it’s important to note that this isn’t always the case with free VPNs. You see, it’s difficult for a VPN to be entirely free because running the service requires substantial resources and skilled manpower.

In the case of the free Linux VPNs on our list, the VPNs are only free because premium users pay for the service. This enables the VPN providers to accommodate free users, but only on a limited basis.

Some free VPNs Linux users should avoid are:

  1. Hotspot Shield: Hotspot Shield is not a stranger to scrutiny due to its lackluster privacy policy. For example, in its privacy policy, the VPN clearly states “Aura does not ‘sell’ your personal information except in the context of some free versions of our VPN products.” This goes against the whole point of a VPN, free or not.
  2. Private Internet Access (PIA): Until recently, PIA was one of the best VPNs for Linux hands down. Why? It offers a full app and GUI for Linux, open-source and transparent, multiple distro support, and much more. However, its servers are being blocked across the board, leaving users experiencing a terrible browsing experience. Technically, this VPN isn’t a free option, either, although it does offer a free VPN trial.
  3. SecurityKISS: Despite SecurityKISS being a somewhat popular VPN, we highly caution our readers against it. The VPN has a poor anti-logging policy and uses outdated protocols. For example, it implements the PPTP protocol, which is known to be insecure.
  4. VPNBook: VPNBook has a terrible logging policy that we would advise our readers not to use. It logs your IP address and timestamps, which can be used to track your online activities. Its speeds are quite slow, too, which would make for an unpleasant browsing experience.

With that said, you should be cautious using VPNs that claim they are entirely free. In most cases, you’re paying for the service in other ways you may not be aware of.

How We Picked the Best Free VPNs for Linux

How we pick the best free VPNs iconWe rigorously tested every VPN on the list to present to you the best free Linux VPNs. Below are the specific KPIs we used to compile the list.

  1. Truly free: We focused on truly free VPNs that are also safe and secure. The VPNs on the list above do not require any credit card information. Even better, at no point will you be compelled to upgrade to the premium version if you are comfortable with the features and monthly data limits in the free plan.
  2. Linux support: Linux is known to be not well-supported by VPNs. In our list, we covered providers that strongly support Linux by offering: a user-friendly CLI or Linux GUI, easy installation, Linux documentation, and Linux-focused privacy and security features.
  3. Strict no-logs policy: A strict no-logging policy was a top priority the free VPNs had to meet to make it to this list. The providers listed here besides TunnelBear are based in privacy-friendly countries. None of the VPNs on the list log any information about you.
  4. Speeds: Being tech-savvy, Linux users dislike slow speeds. We took the liberty to test each VPN and ensure it had high and consistent speeds on all or most servers. Although, note that you will have limited usage due to most free Linux VPNs having data caps.
  5. Security features: We aimed for providers with top-notch security features. Besides OpenVPN, we looked for protocols such as IKEv2/IPSec and features such as a kill switch, and leak protection to prevent DNS, WebRTC, or IPv6 leaks.

All VPNs on the list were thoroughly tested on these five premises. Learn more about our VPN testing criteria.

Disadvantages of Using a Free VPN for Linux

A free VPN is capable of providing all the benefits listed in the previous section — but they still fall short. Let’s look at how a free VPN for Linux limits you from having modern, top-of-the-line online security and privacy:

  1. Limited amount of server options
  2. Data caps that restrict usage
  3. Advanced security features reserved for premium accounts
  4. Slow speeds due to premium users getting priority

Free VPNs are quite limiting, especially for the majority of Linux users who are savvy and firm about online security and privacy. That’s why we recommend a good premium VPN geared for Linux.

NordVPN: The Best VPN for Linux

NordVPN LogoNordVPN is, by far, the best VPN for Linux that we’ve tested. We say this because it has impeccable Linux support. You can install the VPN in just four easy steps. It supports a wide range of Debian- or RHEL-based systems, such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Fedora, and CentOS.

NordVPN is based in Panama, keeping it out of the 5 Eyes Alliance, making it excellent for privacy. It has over 5,000 servers in 60 countries, providing you with ample options for bypassing geo-restrictions and censorship. Most Linux users will appreciate that Nord has dedicated servers for P2P traffic, which ensures fast and ultra-secure download speeds for your torrents.

NordLynx is NordVPN’s proprietary version of Wireguard, enabling lightning-fast speeds coupled with rock-solid security for your connection. The VPN goes above and beyond to implement some of the best security protocols we have today: OpenVPN, TCP/UDP, and IKEv2/IPsec. The only downside is that NordVPN does not have a GUI app for Linux (for those who prefer that over CLI). On the other hand, its CLI is easy and straightforward to use.

NordVPN
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  • Excellent protection and a large network of servers
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OpenVPN vs. Other VPNs for Linux

OpenVPN vs other VPNs infographic

OpenVPN is an open-source connection protocol that allows you to establish a secure connection between two endpoints, such as your browser and Google’s servers. It was created for Linux, but it quickly became the de facto protocol for VPNs and is now used in other operating systems.

However, OpenVPN is only a protocol. Other VPNs, such as NordVPN, have expanded on the OpenVPN protocol and added more critical features to provide total online security. A kill switch, DNS leak protection, and split tunneling are all essential features that no Linux user should do without. Moreso, unlike OpenVPN, other VPNs provide servers to connect to and reroute your data through them securely.

Indeed, it is possible to make your own VPN by cobbling scripts together to add the extra features mentioned above, and hey, let’s be honest, it does make for a fun weekend project. However, it’s not for everyone, and most of the time it’s not worth dealing with the plethora of errors and malfunctions that come with it.

With that said, we recommend using true-and-tested VPNs, such as those discussed in this article. It will save you the time and frustration of setting up your own from scratch. Besides, they are free and you can start enjoying private internet access quickly.

How to Install and Run OpenVPN on Linux

As mentioned earlier, OpenVPN is the top security protocol for any VPN worth its salt, such as those mentioned in this article. To install a VPN on Linux, you must first install OpenVPN, then install your VPN of choice after that. Here’s how to install OpenVPN configuration files on Linux.

NOTE: The installation commands will vary depending on the distro and packet manager you use.

How to install OpenVPN on Ubuntu

  1. Open a Linux terminal and run: “sudo apt-get install -y openvpn
  2. Enter your admin password, then hit enter.
  3. Wait for the installation to complete.
  4. Once complete, type “sudo apt-get install openvpn easy-rsa” to install a certificate authority so you can secure your connections with your VPN’s servers.

That’s it! You have successfully installed OpenVPN on your Linux device.

How to download and run server configuration files on Ubuntu

The next step is to download the OpenVPN configuration files for your VPN, so you can connect to a server of your choice. You should note that each server has individual configuration files that you have to download so to connect to it.

  1. Visit your VPN’s website and download their Linux server configuration files to an empty directory.
  2. Open your command line, and navigate to the directory where the config files are located.
  3. Extract the config files (e.g. unzip ovpn_configs.zip).
  4. Launch the OpenVPN client with the specified config file. In the following example, you will need to edit the SERVERNAME to match the .ovpn file you are using to connect: “sudo openvpn –config SERVERNAME.ovpn
  5. Minimize the terminal window for the VPN to keep running. Closing the window terminates the connection.

You’ve successfully connected to your VPN’s server and secured your connection.

How to install a network manager on Ubuntu

If you prefer working with a user interface, the closest you can get to a GUI on Linux (if your VPN does not provide one) is by using the Linux network manager. The network manager makes it easy for you to connect to your VPN.

Here’s how to set up your network manager:

  1. Open a terminal window and enter the following command: “sudo apt-get install -y network-manager-openvpn network-manager-openvpn-gnome
  2. Go to Settings then Network or search for VPN in the Activities search box.
  3. Click on the “+” icon, then click on “Import from file…
  4. Afterward, navigate to the downloaded .ovpn server file and import it.
  5. Enter your account details into the popup titled “Add VPN.”
  6. With the information entered, select Add at the top right. Enter your admin password to save the configuration.
  7. To add more than one server, repeat steps 3 to 5.
  8. To connect to the server, go to the NetworkManager, then pick “VPN Off” and choose the server you want to connect to. If the connection is successful, the top bar will have a padlock.

Well done! You can now connect to a server and also add multiple server locations.

Why You Need a VPN for Linux

Infographic showing why you need a VPN for Linux

Despite Linux being one of the most secure operating systems today, it still lacks in securing and privatizing users’ activities online. This is where a VPN comes in: it adds an extra layer of protection beyond the Linux operating system environment.

Below, we dive into a few key reasons why you need a VPN for Linux, whether free or paid.

1. Security

To connect to the internet, you need a unique address known as an IP address, which, like a postal address, contains information about you. This includes information such as your current location and internet activities. This information can be detrimental to you if it falls in the wrong hands, such as those of cybercriminals.

To avoid this situation, use a VPN to change your IP address. A VPN reroutes your connection through external servers in countries of your choosing. The result? Anonymous browsing and spoofed location thanks to a masked IP address.

2. Privacy

Unfortunately, today, the internet has become a cesspool of data harvesters. These parties include hackers, governments, and corporations. They sometimes use unorthodox methods to breach your privacy and get your data, but you’ll be able to avoid this with a VPN.

A VPN’s main purpose is to privatize your connection by encrypting your data. Good VPNs employ the latest and most hardened encryption protocols. This makes it very hard for any third party to look at your data.

3. Torrenting

The majority of Linux users are staunch supporters of internet freedom and information access. Some governments and corporations, however, disagree. Don’t get us wrong: downloading copyrighted material is illegal, but torrent sites are also used to share other types of important information — some of which are perfectly legal.

Furthermore, several countries have strict laws that may result in hefty fines or jail time if you’re caught downloading torrents. As a result, we recommend Linux users stay safe by using a VPN so that their internet activities can remain private. Also, Linux users will be able to access blocked torrent sites in their country.

4. Geo-blocking

Geo-blocking is restricting access to content based on user location. This content may be:

  • Discounts on shopping sites around the world
  • Media on streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, or BBC iPlayer
  • Live sports events such as Formula 1, US Open, or NFL
  • Access to the best gaming servers

By using a VPN, you can bypass these geo-restrictions and access whatever content you like. For example, Amazon UK has a discount for a specific item you like? No problem, through your VPN, connect to a server based in the UK and net that discount.

5. Censorship

Censorship is fast becoming common in many countries around the world. It’s no longer isolated to authoritarian states like China or Eritrea. Governments are resorting to online censorship when citizens most need these online services. For example, during prior uprisings, countries such as Egypt, Nigeria, and Russia have restricted access to online services, such as social media, blogs, and news sites.

However, it’s not just countries that censor the internet for users. It may also be your school, office, or even home. To curb this, we recommend using a reliable Linux VPN. A VPN bypasses all forms of censorship by routing your connection through another server, one that’s in a country without censorship. A VPN makes it appear like you’re in that country, allowing you full access to your favorite online services.

Online Security for Linux

Security and privacy iconToday, Linux is one of the most secure and privacy-focused operating systems available. However, it falls short of protecting users from internet threats such as hacking and ISP and government monitoring.

With a reliable VPN, you can improve your online security and your data privacy for free. You can start with the recommended free VPNs we mentioned above, then upgrade to a premium VPN like the Linux-friendly NordVPN as your needs increase.

For a free Linux VPN, we recommend you pick one from our list that suits your specific needs. There is:

If you have other systems in need of a VPN, we recommend you read our other guides.

The Top 5 Best Free VPNs for Linux: Frequently Asked Questions

Have more questions about the best free VPN for Linux? Click on the questions below!

Yes. Just to name a few, ProtonVPN, Windscribe VPN, TunnelBear VPN, and PrivadoVPN are all free, safe, and secure VPNs for Linux. However, they do have limiting features, which we discuss in-depth in our article on the best free VPNs for Linux.

Yes! Due to the popularity of Ubuntu, free VPNs offer massive support for it. For example, ProtonVPN has an intuitive GUI for Ubuntu bundled with top-notch security, unlimited data, and high speeds. All for free.

Alternatively, Windscribe has some of the best browser-based tools that harden your security online. Read our article to learn more about these free VPNs and others.

No. It’s a common misconception that OpenVPN is built into Linux, but it isn’t. Although, Linux does offer support for different VPN protocols such as the aforementioned OpenVPN, Wireguard, and IPSec. However, you’ll need to install them and connect to an external server for you to have a VPN.

Tech journalist
Ian is an enthusiastic content writer who loves researching and writing about cybersecurity, internet privacy and online freedom. He's a marketer and cybersecurity enthusiast who aims to educate others through his writing. During his downtime, he enjoys going on nature walks and baking sourdough bread.